The newsletter of the AU Commission Issue Year of Women s Empowerment and Development towards Africa s Agenda 2063

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1 The newsletter of the AU Commission Issue Year of Women s Empowerment and Development towards Africa s Agenda 2063

2 Disclaimer The AU ECHO is produced by the Directorate of Information and Communication of the African Union as a compilation of contributions from African Citizens and staff members of the African Union, as a result of a call made by the Directorate for such contributions. In this respect, the views contained therein are solely those of the authors and do not reflect the official position of the African Union nor of its Commission. African Union Commission 2

3 Year of Women s Empowerment and Development towards Africa s Agenda

4 Contents Foreword 05 Breaking Gender Barriers: Political Representation and the Economic Self-Empowerment of the Cameroonian Woman 06 Maximising Economic Empowerment Schemes for Women year of women s empowerment and development: what is in it for women smallholder farmers? 13 Women s Empowerment and Development in Africa: Strides and Tides 17 Women in Agriculture: Addressing the Gender Gap through Relevant Agricultural Frameworks 22 In the Africa we want, girls will be girls, not brides 25 Pan-African Organizing for a Collective Approach to Agenda Avenues for Women s Economic Empowerment in Southern Africa: Formalising Informal Cross-Border Trade 32 Year of Women s Empowerment and Development Towards Africa s Agenda Liberté d expression, Participation citoyenne et non-violence chez les jeunes filles égyptiennes 38 La Petite Fille et Les Stereotypes Sexuels 41 Renforcer le rôle des femmes dans la gestion des forêts aux Comores Femmes ميحرلا نمحرلا هللا مسب 4

5 Foreword It is my great pleasure to present this issue of the AU ECHO, the newsletter of the African Union Commission, which we are publishing under the theme of the African Union Summits for 2015 i.e. Year of Women s Empowerment and Development towards Africa s Agenda The newsletter is published each year according to the annual themes of the AU as decided by our Heads of State and Government. The AU ECHO provides a vital linkage between the African Union and the African people. It is an avenue through which we can share knowledge and experiences that enhance our integration and unity. By giving voice to African people to tell their own stories of development, it helps us to achieve our desire to be a people centered African Union, especially now as we focus on Agenda The manuscripts in this edition cover a wide scope of areas in which progress has been achieved and where challenges remain in terms of achieving the true empowerment and development of women. The theme for our Summits this year deserves a special place in all our hearts. Women constitute more than half of Africa s population. They give birth to the other half. Women make up seventyfive per cent of the agricultural workforce. They constitute the bulk of cross-border traders and still provide for the well-being of communities, the workforce and our societies, as well as being custodians of our culture. The continent has taken many decisions towards the emancipation of women and gender parity. The African Union s gender architecture includes important documents such as Article 4 (L) of the Constitutive Act of the African Union, the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, the Solemn Declaration on Gender Equality in Africa, the Fund for African Women, and the African Women s Decade. The African Union Commission, and more importantly the member states, have to implement these decisions. This newsletter allows us to hear from the people how the decisions made by our leaders are impacting their lives. As you read through this newsletter, you will find that the contributors have presented us with well researched information that can be used by others in their own programmes on empowering women. The writers also point to areas where we as the African Union, member states of the African Union and societies in general, should adjust and re-focus if we are to achieve gender parity by or before 2063, as set out in the Agenda 2063 framework. May this short overview on women s empowerment and development arouse your own interest to learn how policies adopted by African Heads of State and Government are making a difference to the people of this continent. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma Chairperson: African Union Commission 5

6 Gender Equality: What do African citizens think? Women have traditionally played critical roles in our African societies. Gender equality flourished in ancient lands where African women occupied positions of responsibility. While there were so many, our history books recognized only a few of them: Queen Ann Nzinga of Angola, Makeda the Queen of Sheba in Ethiopia, Queen Ahmose-Nefertiti of Egypt, Mbuya Nehanda of Zimbabwe, Yaa Asantewa of the Ashanti Empire, Buktu of Mali and Didon, Queen of Carthage (Carthage now known as Tunisia was the first State in the world founded by a woman). There are many, many other women that held very great responsibilities in our ancient civilisations, whose good deeds continue to influence us today. Yet African women still do not have equal access to opportunities and services. Habiba El Mejri Scheikh Director Information and Communication African Union Commission 2015 has been called by the African Union the Year of Women s Empowerment and Development Towards Agenda The African Union Commission s Directorate of Information and Communication sent out a call in September, for papers to be published in the AU Echo at the January 2015 Summit of the African Union. The call was sent out to organs and employees of the African Union, and to African citizens in general, men and women, who wanted to share their successful experiences as well as some of the challenges faced toward the gender equality process. Involving the people of the continent in the African agenda gives a voice to African citizens in the process of the AUC leadership s policy aimed at building a people s union through communication, information and outreach. The results have been pleasing, both in their quantity and quality. I would like to thank all the contributors who have made this publication so rich. May we all use this publication to learn from each other and encourage the further empowerment of women on our continent. 6

7 Breaking Gender Barriers: Political Representation and the Economic Self-Empowerment of the Cameroonian Woman By ALOBWEDE NGOME JOHN Senior Administrative & Teaching Assistant CERIS Brussels, Final Year PhD Candidate: Vrije Universiteit Brussels & Canterbury Christ Church University, Dept of Politics & International Relations Abstract This paper analyzes the implementation of the African Union s (AU) vision in Cameroon to empower women economically and politically. This strategy is pulling down gender and ideological barriers (gender parity) to catalyze development and to boost the political representation of women in Cameroon. Cameroon is signatory to the legal and institutional arrangements that inform the AU s policy framework on gender policy. Given its commitment to the AU s mechanisms for fostering gender mainstreaming, the Government of Cameroon has taken steps over the last decade to improve the participation of women in the political and decision-making processes (government and parliament) at the national level as well as the economic empowerment of rural women at the grassroots level, to catalyze development. Using the feminist theory, this article analyses the implementation in Cameroon of the gender equality vision and mechanisms designed by the AU to empower women in order to enhance development. The paper equally assesses the progress made in empowering the Cameroonian woman as a vector of socio-economic development. Important strides have been made. However, significant challenges abound. Key Words: Gender Equality, economic empowerment of women, development, political representation and participation. Introduction Durable socio-economic development can only thrive in Cameroon through the enforcement of gender parity and the economic empowerment of women. The improvement of the political representation and participation of the Cameroonian woman and her economic empowerment at the grassroots (rural women) is bridging the gender gap and triggering socio-economic development, although challenges remain. Women constitute 52 percent of the entire population of Cameroon. They are actively involved in fighting poverty in households and thus make a crucial contribution to development of the society. The status of women in the Cameroonian society that was often dwarfed and subordinated to that of men by culture and state institutions is gradually being reversed with the adoption of the AU s Institutional and legal framework on gender equality and the economic empowerment of women. A perfect avenue to push for the economic emancipation of rural Cameroonian women is through the promotion of community-based projects. Women who possess economic and political power contribute to the wellbeing of their households. Their empowerment is a commitment of the government of Cameroon to catalyze development. Combining the political representation of women with the grassroots approach of economic empowerment with micro projects is proving effective, in reaching women in all spectrums of the Cameroonian society. The success of micro projects is contributing immensely to the welfare of poor and widowed families. They are learning to map out their economic future without relying on their often 7

8 powerful husbands and/or on the state. The notion of gender domination and the related impediment to women can best be examined through the feminist approach. Raman Selden (1989) postulates that the central idea with feminism is: to challenge male chauvinism and to end women s exploitation by patriarchy at all levels (141). In the same light Bill Ashcroft (1995) asserts that feminist theory generally attempts to unmask and reject patriarchal ideology of domination and fight for female equality (249). In a sense, feminism as a doctrine advocates for the social, political and other rights of women as equal to those of men. Women and men alike should be entitled to economic empowerment and equal political representation. Political Representation of the Cameroonian Woman Cameroon is a member state of the AU. It has adopted and is implementing various AU conventions to improve gender equality, by improving the political representation of the woman. The state is taking steps to improve the political representation and participation of women in decision-making. The state has increased the number of women in parliament. Cameroon currently has 180 parliamentarians drawn from various political parties. Women constitute percent (56) of elected parliamentarians while men constitute percent. Significant progress is being made to enforce gender parity as stipulated by the AU s gender mainstreaming architecture (National Assembly of Cameroon: 2014). Measured success has equally been recorded in improving gender parity in the Cameroonian Senate. The Senate saw the light of day in 2013, although it was created by the constitution of Twenty of the 100 senators are women. This is a step in the right direction. However, significant improvement is required, given that amongst the seventy senators elected on April 14th 2013 during Cameroon s first-ever senatorial elections, only 17 are women. Among the thirty senators nominated by the head of state just three of his nominees are women (Senate of Cameroon: 2014). There is need for to further improve the political representation of women. The government of Cameroon has over 30 ministries headed by presidential political appointee (Commonwealth: 2014). At any one time there have been a mere 33.3 percent of female ministers in government since the year Economic Self-Empowerment at the Grassroots In its implementation of the AU s gender parity vision, the State of Cameroon is encouraging numerous micro-projects to enhance the economic self-empowerment of women in rural and peri-urban terrains. Women are the main procurers and users of energy in Cameroon. They are being encouraged to improve their status in the constricting male dominated Cameroonian society by becoming dynamic in the production of bio-gas and other cheap renewables for income generation. This is enabling them to gain greater equality with men via economic self-empowerment. Rural and often illiterate and semi-educated women are involved in various activities designed to improve energy security and generate income. They undertake designing of better kitchens and improved cooking stoves, household lighting and productive income generating activities such as modern food and fruit drying installations designing. The empowerment of the Cameroonian woman is key to the eradication of poverty. This is important because of the 1.3 billion people who live in poverty globally, 70 percent are women 1. Therefore, to lift families out of poverty, especially energy poverty, considerable attention has to be directed towards empowering women. The better welfare of women means the better welfare of entire families, especially because women head households in Cameroon. Single and widowed Cameroonian women who head households are now active in the informal sector. They are active in food preservation and processing activities, some of which have high energy demand. Small-scale industrial activities such as baking, fish and cassava milling are major income generators for disadvantaged rural women and their families. Since the declaration the African Women s Decade (2010) Cameroonian women are more empowered to eradicating poverty and improve the welfare of their families. They are increasingly involved in kick-starting and operating small enterprises such as palm oil processing, small bakeries, fish smoking, the processing of cassava into garri, managing guest houses and hotels, tea and food preparation as well as soap 1. This figure is advanced by the African Development Bank in a special issue published captioned: ADB FINESSE AFRICA Newsletter of October 2004, p.2 8

9 and pottery making. The long-term survival of these incomegenerating projects entails improved access to clean energy services for productive activities, lighting and cooking. This could have a significant outcome on economic activities. This will in turn improve the lives of family members. Reducing women s drudgery through improved access to reliable energy services and the development of business initiatives would have significant positive impact on women s literacy and education, as well as on the nutrition, health and wellbeing of the entire family. Empowering local Women through Solar Electrification The Rural Women Development Center, a local NGO in Cameroon has made a significant contribution in promoting female emancipation through the creation of rural solar electrification centers in the South West Region of Cameroon. This is enshrined in the AU s vision to empower and emancipate the Cameroonian woman. Women residing in rural enclaves cannot be empowered economically in a context of energy crisis. Given the terrible energy situation in most rural-village settings, local communities that are not yet connected to the national electricity grid are opting for micro renewable energy. These initiatives are backed by the World Bank and the African Development Bank via the Government of Cameroon. The historic micro renewable energy initiative: Empowering local community through Solar Energy Electrification is jointly supported by the Rural Women Development Centre (US$18.205), the GEF Small Grants Programme (US$ ) and the Barefoot College in India which, through the UNDP, made a contribution of US$ to the realization of this project: (Mpeck Nyemeck 2012:2). State backed micro projects are giving local women a voice through the production of renewable solar energy.the rural Solar Electrification Centers put in place for this scheme have to date provided 600 plus Cameroonians in 98 households with affordable solar electricity in addition to income generation. According to Nawah Ngoh Martin 2 this project has not only brought electricity to his community but it has predominantly impacted the lives of women and widows positively, as it has improved the living standards of the entire community. The underlined goals of such projects are to achieve the economic empowerment of women and the alleviation of poverty amongst women and households headed by widows. A major highlight of the AU s initiative to empower women in local Cameroonian communities through solar electrification involves the training of woman by the Barefoot College in India of grandmothers as solar engineers. This is groundbreaking because Cameroonian women hardly rise to the position of engineers. The field of engineering has always been a male preserve in Cameroon. Training women in solar technology has served as a morale booster to the women according to its participants: It was a good experience I learnt a lot and now it goes to show that what a man can do a woman can do too. My colleague and I are regarded with high esteem in our community - Nchenge Helen 3. This group of women has been training their colleagues as solar engineers. These women are installing solar panels and batteries in households, which panels are capable of lighting at least three fluorescent bulbs. This process is generating income for rural women in addition to improving the lives of the beneficiaries. It has equally facilitated the charging of mobile phones which could not be charged in those communities before, given the absence of electricity. Solar power has improved the lives of most families. Conclusion and Challenges This article has attempted an evidenced-based analysis of the implementation of the gender parity programmes of the AU in Cameroon. In implementing the AU s gender equality roadmap, the state has taken concrete steps to empower woman economically. Significant progress has been achieved in the economic self-empowerment of women as a strategy to boost development. The state has actively supported microfinance activities and encouraged women to run for political and administrative office. Significant hurdles however remain in this effort. 2 NawahNgoh Martin is the chief of Munyange a village located behind Mount Cameroon that was not connected to the national electricity grid but is now lighted up thanks to solar energy generated from Rural Electrification Centers. 3 Nchenge Helen is one of the two widows trained as a solar engineer in the Barefoot College in India. 9

10 References African Development Bank (2004): Financing Energy Services for Small-scale Energy Users: ADB Finenesse Africa Newsletter 1.6, October Assiter, Alison (1996): Enlightened Women Modernist Feminism in a Post Modern Age, London, Routledge. FonjongLotsmart (2001): Fostering women s Participation in Development Through non-governmental efforts in Cameroon in the Geography Journal, Vol. 167, N0 3, September 2001., pp Elias Ntungwe (2012): Farmers Turn Dung into Power. Einhorn, Barbara (1985): Lets Discuss Women s Rights, London, Longman and Todd. KarloGrados et al (2008): National Policies and Strategies on Bioenergy in Africa: Case Study: Cameroon, Munich Germany. Malinowski, Bronislow (1923): The Meaning of Meaning, London, Routledge. The ACP-EU Energy Facility (2009): Improving access to energy services for the poor. energy-facility. The Integrated Development Foundation (2011): Our History, Mission and Experience in Women s Empowerment, Bamenda Cameroon. 10

11 Maximising Economic Empowerment Schemes for Women By Osai Ojigho, Deputy Executive Director, Alliances for Africa P O Box Alagbon Close Post Office, Ikoyi, Lagos State, Nigeria Women in traditional societies took on a number of roles when it came to providing for their families and seeking some means of livelihood. This varied from working on farms, trading (buying and selling), traditional weaving and dyeing of cloth and hair plaiting. The agriculture sector was definitely very important, with women working as farm hands, tilling and cultivating the land as well as processing and storing the produce for sale. However, globally, the services sector has overtaken agriculture as the main employer of women (UNIFEM, Who Answers to Women? Gender and Accountability Report 2008, p.54). In Nigeria, the National Bureau of Statistics 2011 General Household Survey Panel revealed that 37% of women are involved in buying and selling as their main work compared to 33% of women involved in agriculture. These statistics do not in any way reduce the significance of agriculture in Africa and its impact on food security which is crucial for growth and sustainability of the African continent. This paper however, is based on the assumption that the service sector particularly the provision of goods through buying and selling is increasingly becoming the route through which women can be empowered. This paper argues using recent initiatives that target women s economic empowerment, to illustrate strategies that have been implemented and how this can be scaled up to advance women s roles and leadership in Africa s development. The most common description of women doing business is as market women and this has also transcended into modern society. Market women now take different forms and are not restricted to regular markets but are now entrepreneurs, distributors and international traders. The potential for growth in this sector show that women can become employers of labour as well instead of being only sole traders. There are different challenges and barriers affecting women trying to do business in the modern world. Many of these barriers are linked to limited access to resources. For example, lack of or insufficient capital to start or grow a business, cultural restrictions on ownership of land, insufficient technical skills, little knowledge of financial and business management and complex market structures that make it difficult for women to access potential regional and international trading platforms to market and sell their goods and services. Other barriers are social and these include violence against women, cultural misperceptions of independent women and lack of family support. In order to excel in modern business, women require both the skills and support to do so. This is where economic empowerment schemes can be useful in meeting both the training needs of women under the scheme and providing opportunities for them to develop or market their goods including access to new markets at local, regional and international level. In 2011, Alliances for Africa, an African-led human rights, peace and sustainable development NGO in Lagos, Nigeria collaborated with Unilever Nigeria, a manufacturer of personal products and consumer goods, to pilot a Women Empowerment Programme (WEP) over a 1-year period. This was an Economic Empowerment Scheme designed to contribute to Goals 1 and 3 of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) aimed at combating poverty and improving gender equality respectively. It was also planned to support activities under the African Women Decade (AWD) , particularly on the theme: Fighting Poverty and Promoting Economic Empowerment of Women and Entrepreneurship. It was implemented under a 3 step agenda: to train, empower and monitor. One Hundred (100) women were trained from the North- Central region of Nigeria. The women were selected after a 11

12 through selection process to identify women with low or no income. The training was holistic covering business and finance skills such as bookkeeping, using an accounting ledger, marketing and stock-taking. It was important to stress the importance of keeping good records of stocks and finances. A major reason why many businesses cannot access loans even micro-ones is due to non-existent financial records that show a potential investor or bank how the business is being managed and growth of sales or income. Secondly, many of the women trained were not aware that how their goods were presented and marketed can massively increase their sales with customers. Unilever Nigeria provided the trained women with a branded kiosk and start-up capital in the form of the value of goods. So no cash was involved. The women would generate income and replenish their stock from the sale of the goods received. In addition, the women had direct access to Unilever Nigeria s national distribution network effectively cutting off the middlemen and ensuring that the women maximise the gains they made from buying at distributor or wholesale price. The women beneficiaries were then monitored and evaluated over a one-year period. The results of this private sector funded NGO collaboration were encouraging. It was able to bridge the gap between a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiative of a company with the Rights-Based approach of NGO working together to improve the livelihoods and economic empowerment of rural and urban poor women. After one year, most of the women showed an increase in their personal and families income. Their personal achievements show that with the right support disadvantaged women can start a business and gain the capacity to meet their needs and supplement their families livelihood. It is therefore imperative to emphasise women s economic empowerment in all development programmes and should have a key place in Africa s Agenda peoples shall have the right to their economic, social and cultural development Article 13 of the Protocol to The African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights on The Rights of Women in Africa (i.e. Maputo Protocol) provides that States guarantee women equal opportunities in work and career advancement and other economic opportunities. African states are therefore encouraged to work with one another and other diverse actors to maximise economic empowerment schemes to improve the economic status of women We must not forget that women are not a homogenous group and special measures should be taken to provide access for women living with disabilities, women from poor backgrounds, women from marginalized groups and minority groups including African indigenous communities and refugee or internally displaced women. The process of empowering women is a collective and multifaceted one. Collaborations between the private sector, local industries, NGOs, development partners and the State can be more effective in leveraging on the different expertise and skills each brings to economic empowerment schemes. The success of economic empowerment schemes is not in the funds given to the women but in the access to opportunities that they offer. The access provided secures a place for anyone to develop and succeed. The economic empowerment scheme described above focused on small-scale businesses but can be medium-scale and large-scale targeting different industries and sectors. These schemes can be widely accessible and funded with support from government budgets and programmes. Women s empowerment and access to economic opportunities is a human right. Article 22 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights states that all 12

13 2015: year of women s empowerment and development what is in it for women smallholder farmers? Authored by: Christina Kwangwari ActionAid International Project Manager - Anatole Uwiragiye - ActionAid Rwanda Project Manager - Azumi Mesuna- ActionAid Ghana Project Manager - What will real women empowerment look like? The theme for the year 2015 is women s empowerment and development towards agenda This theme is highly relevant and important to African women. First we need to examine what constitutes women s empowerment and development. Generally, it is understood that women must be empowered to participate within the economic and political structures of society. However, empowerment should not be seen as something which can be bestowed by one person/ group upon another. As noted by Rowlands (1997) if power can be bestowed as a gift, it can just as easily be withdrawn. Real empowerment includes participation in decision making, the ability to formulate strategic choices, access, own, control resources and decisions that affect important life outcomes. Empowerment also places an obligation on the state as the principal duty bearer to put in place relevant policies and legislative frameworks. Important background facts If men and women had equal access to productive resources in agriculture, food output in developing countries would increase by between 2.5 and four percent enough to pull million people out of hunger. Yet women continue to be discriminated against in accessing these resources, (FAO 2011). Women farmers grow the majority of staple food consumed in Africa and also are largely responsible for food preparation and cooking, yet, as elsewhere in the world, they are disproportionately represented among the hungry. 1 Women face systematic prejudice and discrimination in access to land, water and other productive resources as well as participation in social and political movements that have a bearing on their farming activities. This negatively impacts on their abilities to feed themselves, their families and to contribute to the national economy. Women and girls have a disproportionate responsibility for unpaid care work. Care work includes all those activities that go towards caring for a household such as cooking, cleaning, collecting water and firewood, and caring for the ill, elderly, children and voluntary community work. This paper argues that without a holistic approach looking at intersections of women s rights, it is impossible to attain the goals of women s empowerment and development in 2015 as well as agenda It highlights some of the interventions that have worked on a pilot project implemented in Ghana and Rwanda and makes some critical recommendations for the African Union member states. The pilot project focused on mobilisation of women smallholder farmers, improving livelihoods, capacity building on climate resilient sustainable agriculture to enhance production and food security and reducing hours spent by women smallholder farmers on unpaid care work2. Low cost interventions that can impact women empowerment in Africa a) Livelihood diversification In 2013, AAI began a high target climate resilient sustainable agriculture training which resulted in 5,400 13

14 women smallholder farmers involved in the programme acquiring more skills on sustainable agriculture. This included facilitating learning the use of leguminous plants, composting, green manure, mixed cropping and livelihood diversification and interventions for livestock rearing, food processing and marketing. The livestock distributed to women smallholder farmers in the form of cows, pigs and poultry in Rwanda and goats in Ghana facilitated women s access to manure as well as assets which they could sell during periods of vulnerability such as droughts. Further the milk and eggs produced by the livestock was also useful in boosting children s nutrition. This project has really improved our lives, previously, we were not allowed to have a goat or even to pick the animal droppings from men s livestock but this has changed as we now are able to collect our animals droppings and use them in our fields and kitchen gardens, commented one smallholder farmer in Upper East, Ghana. b) Access to and control over seeds Throughout Africa, the access to and control over seeds has shifted from poor and small farmers to profit making companies. This increases the risk of extinction of local varieties. Seed security is the foundation of food security because seed is the first link of the food chain and ultimate symbol of food security. With community based training on seed preservation, AAI has set up 9 community seed and grain banks in the Southern Province of Rwanda. The seed banks are managed by women smallholder farmer groups. We did not know it was possible to keep the seeds in a central location like this and do it together. We do not have to buy seeds any more even when there is shortage of seeds at the market we do not get affected by this. We produce our own seed and other women in the community are also interested in this seed banking, Drocella Mukakabera, a member of Itetero women group in Busasamana sector, Nyanza, Rwanda. The same structures used for seed banking are also used for grain banks. Grain banks can help reduce post-harvest loses, improve food and nutrition security. In Gisagara, some women farmers had this to say: We do not have to sell our grain when prices are low, we can store the grain in the grain bank and sell during the time when prices are more favourable. The women use locally available materials such as plastic bottles and fire to preserve their seeds and grain. Women smallholder farmers have become less dependant on private companies who sell mostly hybrid seeds at high prices. 14 Figure 1: Seed and grain bank in Rwanda: Photo ActionAid Figure 2: Women prepare seed for storing in seed bank

15 c) Breaking isolation, mobilizing and organizing For a long time women smallholder farmers have felt isolated from mainstream discussions. Through the AAI project, women have organized into 180 women s groups with 30 members in each group. These groups are useful spaces for women to discuss issues affecting them as far as leadership, farming and unpaid care work is concerned. As groups of women, smallholder farmers feel empowered when negotiating for resources with chiefs and local authorities. It is important for the state, AU and NEPAD to recognise such grassroots based groups and facilitate their participation in policy making and not only focusing on large farmers group. d) Moving frontiers of exclusion on land Women s access to land is another area which needs urgent attention in the year of women s empowerment and development. It is difficult to discuss sustainable agriculture without considering access to and control of land. In Ghana where 75% of women smallholder farmers said they had no land at the time of baseline3 data collection in 2012, women s groups have negotiated for land with local authorities and have been given land to grow soybean seeds, maize and other crops. This group farming has also resulted in changes in male attitudes at home as they are now aware that women need land. e) Addressing unpaid care work The drudgery of unpaid care work has a significant impact on how much time women can invest in agriculture and other economic and political activities. In AAI s baseline study,4 many women smallholder farmers interviewed in Ghana and Rwanda were spending three to four hours collecting water for household use and similar hours collecting firewood. There was an acute shortage of boreholes while some of the available water facilities were dry. In both countries as in many other African countries, there were no interventions aimed at resolving the energy related problems of women smallholder farmers. Further in Ghana 25% of the women smallholder farmers in the study sample reported that they travelled between 1 and 5 miles daily searching for firewood. Women were also spending many hours on child care. In 2013, AAI piloted child care centers and tracked the time use changes. The results provide useful insights for policy interventions. Women smallholder farmers were able to gain an additional 5 hours of time which they could use to do other activities such as learning, farming, and marketing. The child care centers were provided with support of local government authorities on some disused community buildings. Child care management committees were set up and training was done for child carers. Leoncie says: After 1994 genocide, my husband was taken to jail and I was left with 6 children but recently he came back home. Caring for the family was a huge burden. Since I brought my son at childcare centre I go for farming from 7am to 12am without child interruption. Before the early childcare centre I could not even go to cultivate because I could not leave my child alone at home because his young brothers and sisters had gone to school. But now, I do all my activities without any interruption. Leoncie, is a member of Abunzubumwe women group in Rwanda. Figure 3: Group soya bean seed farm in Ghana Nanumba However more still needs to be done in terms of security of tenure as there is no guarantee that women will always have access to this land. F i g u r e 4 C h a m b a c h i l d c a r e c e n t r e, N a n u m b a 15

16 Empowerment and development imperatives 2015 and beyond. ü Setting up a clear gender goal regarding women s empowerment and agenda 2063 The African union is party to a number of key commitments including the protocol on human and people s rights on the rights of women in Africa, Beijing Platform for Action and the Solemn Declaration on Gender Equality in Africa. In terms of agriculture, the comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) remains the main commitment guiding African agriculture. Under CAADP, AU member states committed to allocate at least 10% percent of national budgetary resources to agriculture and annual growth rate of 6% per annual. Few countries have met this target, however among those who have met and those who have not met the target there are no clear gender targets. Within the different AU departments there is need to come up with one gender goal as well as specific targets under CAADP ü Make a clear commitment/declaration on recognition, reduction and redistribution of disproportionate unpaid care work burden of women The African Union, its agencies, and member states should strengthen commitment by way of a declaration, on recognising, reducing and redistributing women s unpaid care work because its impact on development and empowerment cannot continue to be overlooked. In this regard, the state must prioritise public investments in areas such as child care centers; healthcare, energy, woodlots and water that will help reduce women smallholder farmers disproportionate responsibility for unpaid care work. smallholder farmers adapt to multiple climatic challenges. ü Promote and protect women s land rights Government must ensure that women s access, control and ownership of land is guaranteed. They must put in place measures for secure tenure to land for women smallholder farmers. ü Ensure an intergrated holistic approach In particular, AA recommends a clear framework of the integration of unpaid care work and climate resilient sustainable agriculture by the Department of Rural Economy and Agriculture (DREA) in collaboration with the African Union Gender Directorate for a holistic approach which promotes climate resilient sustainable agriculture and recognises, redistributes and reduces unpaid care work burden for women smallholder farmers. The data is based on the women s rights to sustainable livelihoods project funded by the Dutch ministry of Affairs under the FLOW grant 1. UN ECOSOC Strengthening efforts to eradicate poverty and hunger, including through the global partnership for development Report of the Secretary General 1 June The project is supported by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 3. Insights and experiences of women smallholder farmers in Ghana and Rwanda: Hidden intersections of women s rights and climate resilient sustainable agriculture Actionaid 4. Ibid ü Empower women smallholder farmers to have control over seeds production system Governments must reduce smallholder women farmers dependence on external inputs for seeds and promote community-based seed multiplication, indigenous seeds to ensure access to quality seeds at the time farmers need them. In many places in Africa, the introduction of highyielding varieties (HYV), hybrid plants, and other green revolution technologies have displaced traditional varieties. These new varieties are not always affordable to farmers or easily adaptable to local soil and climate. Traditional varieties hold essential genetic characteristics that can help 16

17 Women s Empowerment and Development in Africa: Strides and Tides Iyadunni Ikubaje-Aina 1 Programme Officer; Institute For Peace and Security Studies (IPSS), University of Addis Ababa, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia Introduction: Historically, women have played significant socio-political and economic roles across the world (Bunch, Charlotte and Roxanna Carrillo, 1990). The experience in Africa, particularly in recent years attests to this conclusion. Aside from the fact that the academia and international development institutions, through research, have documented the concrete contributions of women to Africa s development, their input into the socio-political and economic transformation of the continent has been globally appreciated and acknowledged 2. Beyond their immediate continent, African women also occupy strategic positions in international development institutions such as the World Bank (WB), the United Nations (UN), the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other similar global institutions worldwide making impacts on global development. From the colonial epoch to the present day post-cold war era, accounts of women s contributions to the development of a united Africa are aptly amplified as expected. Politically, women participated actively in different colonial African states to liberate the countries from foreign domination 3. Economically; they have contributed significantly to Africa s economic growth, particularly in areas such as agriculture, trade and commerce. Socially, African women are not left behind; they constitute the 1: Iyadunni Ikubaje-Aina is a doctoral student in Global Area Studies with a special emphasis on peace and security in Africa at Leipzig University, Germany. 2: See details in the Publication of International Center on Research on women Measuring the Impacts of Women s Economic Development Programmes at viewed on 12 June : Women were jailed by the colonial Government in countries like Nigeria and South Africa for taking part in the struggle for political liberation of these countries. building blocks of family cohesion on the continent. They have consistently remained the driving force behind effective African family system which is reflected in communal living and peaceful co-existence. From OAU to AU: The Place of Gender Equality in the Institutional Frameworks: It will be recalled that during the establishment of Africa s continental body, the Organisation of African Unity, in 1963, gender, like other good governance issues was not a priority. Combating colonialism and other forms of foreign domination and integration were the main objectives of the organization. However, with the transformation of the OAU into the African Union (AU) in 2002, new developments began to take place; some of these include the adoption of the AU Constitutive Act, the creation of a Gender Directorate within the African Union governance architecture and the adoption of the African Charter on Democracy, Governance and Election. Internationally, the Durban Declaration of July 9, 2002 also impacted positively the global development agenda and gender issues began to occupy the front bench. The Constitutive Act of the African Union which established the Peace and Security Council as one of its key organs clearly brought gender issues into the limelight within the African Peace and Security Architecture. Unlike the OAU which had no form of architecture in place to address gender concerns, the new AU demonstrated a clear commitment to good governance and gender equality by adopting important decisions through its summit. These decisions form the basis for the establishment of the African Union Gender Architecture (AU-GA). The AU-GA has six pillars namely; The Constitutive Act of the African Union 4, The Protocol to the African Charter on Human and 4 The Constitutive Act of the African Union specifically provide that the African Union shall function in accordance with the promotion of gender equality, thereby making the promotion of gender equality one of the goals of the AU. 17

18 People s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, The AU Gender Policy Framework (consisting of the AU documents and guiding the AUC s work on gender issues), The African Women s decade (which is an implementation platform) The Fund for African Women (which is a gender financing mechanism, and The AU Solemn Declaration on Gender Equality and Gender equality as reflected in the new Agenda As the African saying goes Charity begins at home, the AU at the institutional level reflected its commitment to gender equality with the creation of the Women and Gender Development Directorate. Under the office of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, the Department has an overall mandate of ensuring capacity building for all AU Organs, RECs and Member States of the African Union in terms of gender mainstreaming in all policy and programme processes and implementation. International Initiatives and Gender Development in Africa: Aside from this continental initiative, the AU in its commitment to women s empowerment and development also keyed into the global initiative known as the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). 5 The continental organization held various regional consultations across Africa on the MDGs and took practical steps to follow up on these goals with key decisions. The African Union promoted and supported MDGs implementation across the continent with various initiatives. The AU also collaborated with organizations such as the African Development Bank, the European Commission, the International Monetary Fund, the Islamic Development Bank Group, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, the World Bank and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa for all the Member States to achieve all the goals by the year Within the evolving framework of the Post-2015 Development Agenda, the AU has equally taken the requisite action further in adopting a common position on Post-2015 Development Agenda. Gender equality in Africa constitutes a 5: The UN Millennium Development Goals was developed in 2001 by the United Nations Secretariat. It presents eight goals development goals and targets to be achieved by the year Goal 3 specifically seeks to promote Gender equality and empower women. formidable position within the Post-2015 framework. 6 The Africa Agenda 2063 and Women s Development: The Agenda 2063 is the continental blueprint for Africa s growth and development which emerged out of the need to move Africa forward, in a fast changing world of globalization and rapid technological advancement. It was informed by several strategic frameworks which were developed to enhance Africa s growth and development. 7 This continental renaissance vision and the 50 year action plan are based on the principles of African shared values and common destiny. It paints a clear futuristic picture of a peaceful, prosperous, and integrated Africa by the year 2063: one that is structurally and economically transformed; an influential global player and partner with visible growth, and whose potentials have been fully maximized to positively impact on all areas of life of its populace 8. The origin of this horizon scanning for Africa s future otherwise known as Agenda 2063 is traceable to the African Union s 50th Anniversary Solemn Declaration on 26 May, 2013 where African Heads of State and Government did a stock-taking of the continent s past achievements and articulated their recommitment to transform Africa with a set of goals and targets within a 50 year timeline 9. The technical document of the Agenda which is currently being finalized will be presented for adoption at the January 2015 Summit of the AU, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The Agenda will also have a comprehensive first ten-year action plan. Within the African Agenda 2063 framework, unleashing the potentials of women in development and gender equality was clearly provided for. Gender is one of the aspirations of the African Agenda Gender equality is recognized as one of the catalysts for Africa s socio-political 6: See african-union-post-2015-position 7: Frameworks such as the Abuja Treaty, The New Partnership for Africa s Development (NEPAD), the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP),the Plan of action for Accelerated Industrial Development in Africa (AIDA), the Minimum Integration Programme, Programme for Infrastructural Development in Africa (PIDA), and Africa s Agro-industry and Agri-business Development Initiative (3ADI). 8: See the Statement of the African Union Commission Chairperson, Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma to the 25th Ordinary Session of the Executive Council on June Summit in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea. Available at summit.au.int/en/23rdsummit/ speeches/statement-chairperson-african-union-commission-he-drnkosazana-dlamini-zuma-23-o accessed 25 October : See the 50th Anniversary Solemn Declaration Document. Available at http;//summit.au.int/en/sites/default/files/50%20en.pdf accessed on 14 October

19 and economic transformation. The Agenda highlights the features of the Africa future where there will be equal social, political and economic opportunities and access for all and a level playground for women in all spheres of life. Gender Equality Indices: Over the years, different gender equality indicators have been developed. Some of them include the UNDP Gender Development Index (GDI) and the Gender Empowerment Measure (GEM) (Klasen and Schüler 2009). In addition, other international composite indices for measuring gender equality have been developed; partly to complement and expand on the GDI and the GEM. For example, Social Watch Gender Equity Index (GEI) (Social Watch 2005) and the World Economic Forum s Gender Gap Index (GGI) are other indices for measuring gender equality (Lopez and Claros and Zahidi 2005). International indicators such as the Africa Gender and Development Index (AGDI) have also been developed. Current literature and work by scholars, international organizations and gender advocates have equally identified three broad priority areas underlining gender parity in Africa. These include freedom from violence against women and girls, gender equality in the distribution of capabilities and equality in decision-making power in public and private spheres of political governance 10. Indicative strategies such as promotion of policies that will enhance access to productive assets (including financing) by women, implementation of mechanisms for tracking progress towards parity by women with respect to access to productive assets/skills, and participation in all levels of governance and advancement in positions within the public and private sectors were also outlined. The World Bank for example defines gender equality in terms of rights, resources and voices - equality under the law, equality of opportunities (including access to human capital and other productive resource) and equality of rewards for work and equality of voice (World Bank 2001). Similarly, based on previous analytical work of various experts, the UN Millennium Project Taskforce for Education and Gender (Grown et al, 2005) adopted an 10: SeeUnited Nations publication titled Transformative standalone goal on achieving gender equality, women s rights and women s empowerment. Available at: unwomen.org/~/media/headquarters/attachments/sections/ Library/Publications/2013/10/UNWomen_post2015_ positionpaper_english_final_web pdf accessed 15 July 2014 operational framework for understanding gender equality. It has three main domains: (i) The capabilities domain referring to basic human abilities as measured by education, health, and nutrition; (ii) The access to resources and opportunities domain which refers primarily to equality in the opportunity to use or apply basic capabilities through access to economic assets (such as land, property, or infrastructure) and resources (such as income and employment and financial services) as well as political opportunities (such as representation in parliaments and other political bodies), and (iii) The security domain which is defined as reduced vulnerability to violence and conflict, as violence, particularly targeted at women and girls limits them from reaching their potential. It is within the earlier identified indices and the above three highlighted parameters that the progress made so far on women s empowerment and development by the African Union and its member States can be evaluated. Continental Efforts on Gender Development It is important to indicate that in its attempt at translating the new Africa Agenda 2063 in the area of women empowerment and development into reality, the African Union has taken several giant strides despite various challenges. From short and medium, to long term strategies, visible efforts have been taken to build on the existing gender strategies and policy frameworks 11. Right from the outset of the Agenda 2063 development, a consultative forum with women was held on December 2013, in Yaoundé, Cameroon to afforded women the opportunity to input into the Agenda. In line with the African Union Women s Decade ( ), the Bureau of the Chairperson of the African Union 11 : Existing policy frameworks include: The Constitutive Act which enshrined the parity principle, The Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (the Maputo Protocol) (2003), the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, (ACRWC), the Solemn Declaration on Gender Equality in Africa (2004), Solemn Declaration on a Common African Defense and Security Policy (CADSP), Declaration 229 (XII) adopted by the 12th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the AU which proclaimed as African Women s Decade, the Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Development Policy (2006), and the African Union Gender Policy (2009) all of which endorse the provisions of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 of 2000 on Women Peace and Security. 19

20 Commission in partnership with the UNDP Regional Service Centre for Africa designed a new regional programme focusing on Building an Enabling Environment for Women s Economic Empowerment and Political Participation in Africa. The initiative birthed the first ever African women business forum held in Nairobi Kenya from August In a similar vein, the AUC held a workshop to assess implementation of the Solemn Declaration on Gender Equality in Africa (SDGEA) by Member States on 24th September 2013 in Abuja, Nigeria. It will be recalled that during the July 2004 Third Ordinary Session of the AU Assembly of Heads of State and Government in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia the Heads of State adopted the SDGEA 12. African States are also signatories to the UN General Assembly s land mark Convention for the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), which was adopted in On 30 September 2013, a High Level Panel meeting on Gender Equality and Women s Empowerment and MDG s Post-2015 was held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The meeting provided an opportunity to critically assess the MDGs, (specifically MDGs 3, 5 and 6) and impediments to the implementation of the gender related goals. It also explored very wide opportunities ranging from socio-political and economic to strengthen the African women s input to the African Common Position on Post 2015 Agenda. To take the discussion further, the First African Union High Level Panel on Gender Equality and Women s Empowerment under the theme: The Post 2015 Agenda for Women within the Context of Economic Empowerment was held from 2 to 4 October 2013 in Abidjan, Cote d Ivoire, All these efforts provide platforms for exchange of views on women s position on the Post 2015 Agenda. These meetings were also meant to engage the global community on the critical needs of African women in the coming twenty years, and mobilize continental support for existing initiatives on gender transformation. 12: The SDGEA is an important African instrument for promoting gender equality and women s empowerment, as it strengthens the ownership of the gender equality agenda and keeps the issues alive at the highest political level in Africa. It therefore serves as a reporting framework for Member States on gender equality and women s empowerment (GEWE).Although the agreement was that all Member States would submit their baseline report for the consideration of the January 2007 Summit, to date 41 Members States have submitted their reports on the SDGEA. The SDGEA is divided into six (6) thematic areas of action, namely: Health, Peace and Security, Governance, Human Rights, Education and Women s Empowerment. Operative Paragraph 12 is a commitment by Heads of State and Government themselves to report annually on their progress in gender mainstreaming. It is envisaged that this reporting will assist Member States to share good practices and identify areas in need of improvement, in other to enhance the status of women. The African Union has also made significant impacts in other areas. For example, in the area of freedom from violence against women and girls, which has a direct link to peace and security particularly within the context of current threats to human security such as violent conflicts, terrorism and organized crime, progress made so far is reflected in the development, adoption and implementation of decisions and key activities by the AU s Peace and Security Department. For instance, the annual open session on the situation of women and children in armed conflicts has been sustained till date. 13 In addition, the Gender Training of Trainers (ToT) Manual for Peace Support Operations (PSOs) has been developed. The manual targets the African Standby Force (ASF) and it brings a gender dimension to peacekeeping. The document has been fully developed and is currently being reviewed. Also, the third AU Strategic Plan ( ) was refined to reflect specific actions, achievements and challenges to the implementation of the women, peace and security agenda, in particular those concerning the participation of women in mediation and preventive diplomacy. Furthermore, an experts meeting on Women, Peace and Security: From Resolution to Action, was held from September 2013 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The meeting reviewed progress in the implementation of National Action Plans on DDR. Also, there was a continental commemoration of the International Mine Awareness and Assistance Day on 4 April The theme was Women in Mine Action. Furthermore, the AU Commission through its Peace and Security Department signed the AU-UN Framework Agreement in February The agreement was meant to promote a joint collaboration with the United Nations to prevent and to respond to conflict-related sexual violence. This agreement will make the AU work closely with the office of the UN Special Representative on Sexual Violence in conflict and to translate the agreed framework into a plan of action to be implemented at the continental level as part of the Prevention and Protection Pillar under the Gender, Peace and Security Programme. 13 Since the 2010 decision, three open sessions on the situations of women and children in armed conflict have been held namely:28 March 2011,26 March 2013 and December Press Statements from these sessions are available at peaceau.org/ en/article/au-psc-devoted-an-open-session-on-the-theme-womenand-children-in-situations-of-violent-conflict-in-africa-contributionand-role-of-women accessed October 1,

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Photo: Sgt Serge Gouin, Rideau Hall Her Majesty The Queen in Right of Canada represented by the Office of the Secretary to the Governor General One of the pillars of my mandate as governor general of Canada is supporting families and children. This is just one of the reasons why my wife, Sharon, and I are delighted to extend greetings to everyone

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